Brandon Duncan and Aaron Harvey served eight and seven months in jail, respectively, because of the fascist policing of San Diego specifically, and the United States more generally. I’m working on a longer post about these two (ETA: This post is now up here), who just this week filed a lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act-established cause of action for official violation of citizens’ rights (42 US Code ss 1983).
The cases against Duncan and Harvey (such as they were) were different, though they arose out of the same underlying acts (acts committed by persons who were neither Duncan nor Harvey). The cases against each were ridiculous, and thrown out of court after the two had each spent months unable to post bonds of hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the one against Harvey is arguably much more scary in its plain overreach by police and prosecutors, the case against Duncan has received more attention.
In part this is because the theory of Duncan’s crime, according to the prosecutors, was that Duncan, a rapper, sold more records by being vaguely associated with a few members of a local gang, who were his school friends when he grew up. If the gang members managed to commit notorious or infamous crimes, that would only lead to more attention focussed on the local neighborhood where Duncan grew up and still lived. That, possibly, might increase the reputation of people merely associated with the gang members, people like Duncan. That, possibly, might lead to even a few more records sold. To be clear about the amounts we’re discussing: Duncan never quit his day job laying tile, and indeed was arrested as he was preparing to go off to work on a tile job, not a gold record.
We can all agree that this is callous hubris on the part of police and prosecutors. Most of us agree, and I sure as hell state as fact, that this is an example fascistic policing. But the prosecutors are going to come out of this looking incompetent, the police incompetent on top of fascistic.*1 Why would they do this? What is it that fascism gains when it kidnaps folks like Duncan or Harvey?
Well, in addition to being able to lock away anyone they like for a time period at least as long as it takes to come up with bail, we can learn quite a bit about what fascism gains, what fascism wants from this final bit of a Don Lemon interview of Duncan that was broadcast on CNN:
Lemon: Brandon, you going to continue to rap the way you’re doing or are you going to change anything?
Duncan: I mean… I would love… I mean, freedom of speech. I would love to continue to rap, but these people have you scared to do anything around here.
This is what fascism wants. This is what fascist policing looks like. This is what must not be allowed to flourish in the US for one more year. This is what must not be allowed to survive in the US for one more year.
If you live in California, contact your legislators to have PCS 182.5 repealed and to encourage the passage of a state cause of action to remedy harms done by fascist policing, to penalize jurisdictions that engage in fascist policing, and to reward jurisdictions that fire officers who engage in violations of protected rights. At the current moment, there is no bill proposed to do any of those things that can be specifically advocated, but your representatives can write one.
*1: The prosecutor should look just as fascistic, but they don’t. To the average viewer of the news, armed cops pulling on the body of an innocent person is going to feel or seem more fascistic than someone in a suit making a decision. In the time of Trump, let’s be clear that the lawyers and politicians who mouth the words that justify armed kidnappings performed by police officers are not less guilty than most of the cops who perform them, and when involved in the decision making that leads to these kidnappings, are actually more guilty than the very low-level cops, the new hires, who have less information, less training, more self-doubt, and far, far less discretion in how they go about their jobs than detectives, lieutenants, captains and chiefs.
I am working on a longer piece on this case that will be posted later, but this bit deserved to be seen now. This bit deserved to be seen undiluted by the longer analysis of the case.